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The "J" Turn Pathway to Parallel

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Fodder for conversation:

 

The "J" Turn

pathway to parallel

End the Death Wedge by teaching expert turn mechanics from the start

By Bud Heishman

 

There’s no need whatsoever to teach a braking wedge. There, I’ve said it. A

braking wedge is only useful to keep from going over a cliff or from plowing into

someone in a lift line. People discover how to brake instinctively.

Teaching the braking wedge along with an active weight shift is the easy way

out. Although this method is the quickest way to train beginners to stop and to

maneuver their skis, it can lead to lifelong

defensive habits that haunt skiers

their entire skiing careers. In fact, most skiers never discover expert skiing

because they are trapped in learning plateaus largely caused by these braking

habits.

We are all aware of at least a couple of common pathways to parallel skiing.

The most common are the wedge to parallel

and the direct to parallel

approaches. However, there is another, lesser known

pathway that combines

these two methods into a pathway devoid of defensive braking movements, yet

not as intimidating as the direct to parallel

method.

The Jturn

pathway to parallel avoids braking wedges by introducing speed

control through line or skiing uphill and avoids active weight shifts by

introducing direction change via simultaneous, doubleedge

releases. The real

beauty of the J turn

pathway is that it introduces the elements of expert parallel

turn mechanics from the very beginning.

In contrast, teaching braking wedges and active weight shifts requires

unlearning these movements later in order to perform a parallel initiation. In

addition, both movements lead to stemming—the bane of mediocre skiers

everywhere. The J turn pathway avoids intentional sequential movements.

Sure, skiers who were taught by this traditional method may reach a level that

allows them to ski the whole mountain, but they ski defensively. They “ski the

fast line slow,” rather than like experts who “ski the slow line fast.” Skiers whose

default movement pattern is to put on the brakes, exhibit habitual stemming, or

the more subtle but obvious to a trained eye, sequential turn initiation. Expert

skiers, on the other hand, are adept at releasing both edges simultaneously to

initiate efficient parallel turns.

The J turn

pathway to parallel is an offensive rather than defensive approach.

J turn

A J turn

is merely an uphill turn that does not cross the fall line. It’s called a

J turn

because the track it leaves resembles a lazy J on its side. Essentially, it

is an uphill Christie. Linked Jturns

across the slope are garlands.

The Jturn

pathway offers a “Centerline,” or middleoftheroad,

demo, which is

an uphill Christie begun in a narrow wedge and finished by matching to

parallel. A more conservative student may perform the uphill turn in a wedge

the whole way to a stop, or the more athletic student may perform the Jturn,

from start to finish, in a parallel position. It does not really matter. The important

element is they learn that speed control comes from controlling one's line rather

than displacing the ski tails. They begin to separate the intent to turn or “go that

way” from the intent to brake or “don’t go that way.”

FINDING SPEED CONTROL

A typical ski lesson introduces the first experiences with speed control using a

braking wedge from a straight run. While this works it begins the pathway to

defensive, braking, “don’t go there” type skiing. Instead, why not avoid this

detrimental move by nixing straight runs down the fall line, instead begin with shallow

traverses reducing the anxiety level and introduce an uphill turn for speed control.

Studies show that a skier’s first experiences with speed control become

subconsciously anchored in their motor memory. It becomes an unconscious reflex,

a go to movement, the brake pedal. This is why I strongly urge instructors to avoid

"braking wedges" and "active weight shifts" to initiate turning in beginner lessons.

Neither of these movements are conducive to parallel turning and must be unlearned

later to permit parallel turn mechanics.

Historically many teaching systems, including PSIA, used snowplows, braking

wedges, tail displacing, upstem

turns, and downstem

turns in their teaching

methodology. When we look at the evolution of ski equipment and technique it is

apparent why this kind of technique was used for many years. With the evolution of

skis, bindings and boots these braking defensive actions are no longer needed.

Though PSIA introduced the “Centerline” concept back in the mid 80”s which

created a paradigm shift in teaching methodology in the USA, many instructors and

their trainers did not grasp this shift in thinking. The Centerline offers a skill blend

representing fluid, functionally sound skiing as a goal and provides a reference to

allow lateral exploration of different skill blends. So now the historical snowplow

braking turns could be one skill blend outcome, to one side of the Centerline, but the

Centerline focus was on a more offensive “Gliding Wedge” turns at the beginner

level. The Centerline concept focuses on getting speed control from “skiing the

slow line fast” vs. “skiing the fast line slow”. The gliding Centerline turning mechanics

do not use tail displacement to initiate turning rather they initiate turning by

eliminating resistance by releasing the down hill edge grip permitting the ski tips to

drift into the fall line. In other words a new turn is begun by letting go of the skis grip

on the earth and allowing gravity to do it’s thing. We start turns like a ball rolled

across the fall line starts it’s turn down the hill. When the ball’s forward momentum

gives in to the pull of gravity it turns to seek the fall line. A ball has no edges to grip

the slope to resist gravities pull and this is how we should initiate turns. Eliminate

our edge’s grip on the snow to work with gravity.

Teaching technique, in many ski schools, has lagged behind the Centerline

concept’s goals and intents. Shedding this antiquated approach to teaching parallel

turning has been difficult. I believe understanding the difference between a

defensive/braking intent and an offensive/GO intent, and how this affects turn

mechanics, is the key to breaking out (no pun intended) of the more classic method

of teaching beginners. Contemporary instructors recognize this paradigm shift and

adjust their teaching methodology accordingly to reflect the intent to “GO there”

rather than “STOP going that way”. “I turn to go where I want to go, skiing a slow

enough line to control my speed, sometimes I need to brake but I do not call this

turning” (Bob Barnes PSIARM).

These two intents are separated so that the goal is

to ski a slow enough line but ski around that line as fast as possible, vs. skiing the

fast line slow which involves skidding, pivoting, stemming, braking, scraping,

defensive skiing with little direction change.

By introducing line control as speed control vs defensive braking movements in our

beginner lessons, our students will be learning expert skiing movements from the

very beginning!

Active vs. passive weight shifts

An active weight shift is a movement of the upper body laterally over the outside

ski to initiate a turn. The active weight shift precedes turning. The weight shift

creates a differential in friction, which then causes a direction change. In

contrast, a passive weight shift occurs as a result of turning forces created by

turning. The turn initiation precedes the weight shift. The method we choose to

introduce at the beginner level has huge implications for the path our students’

skiing will take. One pathway is defensive and braking, the other is offensive or

GO turning.

One method requires the skier to make movements up and away

from the intended turn direction (defensive) the other nurtures edge release to

initiate turning by having every part of the body move in the direction of the

turn.

In a GOturn,

the ski tips move down the hill, rather than a ski tail moving right

to turn left, both ski tips go left to turn left. A passive weight shift occurs as

soon as the turn begins and should be embraced and encouraged. Balancing

on the outside ski of the turn is a primary skill of skiing, but how we get there is

key to developing offensive “GO there” skiing.

Intent to turn

You will note, while exploring the J turn

method, there is a paradigm shift in our

psychological intent to turn. We no longer associate the intent to turn with the

intent to brake. This is the intent of expert skiers. Experts turn with the intent to

GO and use their line to control their rate of descent. Defensive skiers turn to

slow down or NOT GO. We call this offensive intent the “GO turn”. Skiing a slow

enough line to control speed but skiing around that line as fast as possible.

Sometimes experts do need to brake and this is OK, but they do not associate

braking with turning. The intents are polar opposites. Simply grasping this

concept and changing a skier’s intent to turn will have a profound effect on

technique and skiing performance. The skis begin to move notably more

forward than sideways, as the scraping and skidding become closer to carving.

Changing the skier’s intent to turn can be the key to breaking through

intermediate plateaus that plague so many recreational skiers. The J turn

pathway accomplishes this.

Bud Heishman is a Level III instructor and member of the Western Division

Tech Team since 1987. He is the owner of Snowind Sports in Reno, Nevada.

In 2012, Ski Magazine ranked him as one of the top 15 boot fitters in the

country.

[Pullout

quote] “Most skiers never discover expert skiing because they are

trapped in learning plateaus largely caused by these braking habits.

[Sidebar]

J turn

progression

There are three basic tasks on which to focus to be successful using the Jturn

approach: an uphill Christie, a bullfighter turn, and a double edge

release.

Static: Begin with the skis across the fall line on a very shallow beginner slope.

Have the student shift weight from one foot to the other to find where they feel

the most stable. Demonstrate at turn completion how they should feel solidly

balanced over their downhill ski.

Bullfighter turn demo: Introduce the bullfighter turn to get them turned 180

degrees in the other direction and repeat above exercise. The bullfighter turn

involves placing the butt of the pole in the palms of our hands, then creating a

straight line with our poles and arms with locked elbows. Once this is done we

place the pole tips as far as possible directly downhill of our feet, with one to

the outside of the binding toe piece and one to the outside of the heel piece.

Now the skier takes small steps around with the feet in a little box to aim in the

desired direction.

Now use the bullfighter turn to have them point their skis into a shallow traverse

angle. Demonstrate a Centerline J turn

beginning in a small wedge. Once

moving, to gain a bit of momentum, make a shallow turn uphill matching the

inside ski to Christie, finishing the turn parallel to a stop.

Use the bullfighter turn to reposition, once again, into a shallow traverse and

repeat all the way across the slope. Once at the edge of run, use bullfighter

turn to face 180 degrees back across the slope and repeat garlands across the

other way.

Next, link garlands across the slope at progressively steeper starting positions.

At this juncture students should begin to feel comfortable with speed control

and understand how turning up the hill will slow or stop them without ever using

a braking wedge.

Edge release

The next task to introduce is the edge release movement. Here is one example

of how to introduce edge releases:

Begin from a stationary position with skis across the fall line. Demonstrate how

to adjust edge angles using ankles and lower legs vs. hips and shoulders. Then

have students roll their knees and ankles down the hill until the edges begin to

release. Make sure they keep their head over the downhill ski. Start with small,

slow movements then work into sideslips down the hill.

Once students are comfortable with side slipping, begin to traverse the slope on

a very shallow traverse on edged skis and begin to roll knees and ankles until

the edges release into a forward sideslip. Practice forward side slips for a

whole run, back and forth across the slope. Use the bullfighter turn to come

back the other way. Check for good body positions.

Now return to the J turn

garlands, but this time, instead of repositioning skis

with a bullfighter turn, have them turn up enough to slow their speed, while

allowing enough forward momentum so they can release their edges into a

forward sideslip and then back into an uphill Christie. Again, link garlands

across the slope, using bull fighter turn at the other side of slope to come back

the other direction.

Next, gradually increase the turning by complementing the edge release with

some active twisting of the feet to point the ski tips downhill. Students will likely

demonstrate a slight wedge opening, which if fine, but not necessary to

reinforce. Discourage any stemming or braking wedges. Once students are

able to link garlands with straight down the fall line segments, they are ready to

do a Cturn.

Explain that once they can point their skis straight down the fall line, they now

have the option of finishing their turn to the right or to the left. Continue to

practice garlands across the slope but substitute the bullfighter turn with a

C turn

to come back the other way. Now we are ready to link two C turns

to

make S turns.

Whoohoo! moment: At this stage, get lots of mileage on the easiest terrain

available. Have fun and experiment with turn size and comfort levels with speed.

Help students discover and get comfortable with where the acceleration occurs

in a turn and where speed subsides in the turn. Encourage them to embrace

the short periods of acceleration, “the “Whoohoo! moment, knowing that if they

just keep turning in the same turn, their speed will subside.

Help them discover the appropriate amount of momentum to carry into the

beginning of the next turn. Continue to practice a good edge release, passive

but positive weight shift to the outside ski, and a good body position/stance. I

like to have my students inhale as they initiate a turn into the fall line, then

exhale as they finish the turn. This helps with flexion extension

timing and aids

edge release.

Conclusion: By reevaluating

how we introduce speed control and turn

initiations and choosing to teach skiers to release edges to begin turns, and ski

the slow line fast, we can put our students on the fast track to expert skiing


Edited by bud heishman - 10/25/13 at 6:00pm
post #2 of 26

Agreed!  All of that.

post #3 of 26

Lots of good stuff here and lots of similarities to how many of us teach beginners at Vail with a few new elements I may try incorporating into my typical progression.

 

Do you have any advice on teaching the bull fighter turn?  I try to demo and explain it just like you said, but find a lot of students don't want to put the pole tips far enough down the hill to get their arms in a locked position (and often have to pick the poles up because there is not enough room for their skis).  They can get away with this on the 1st (very flat) teaching slope that we use, but then can't perform the bull fighter turn properly on a steeper slope.

post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post
 

Lots of good stuff here and lots of similarities to how many of us teach beginners at Vail with a few new elements I may try incorporating into my typical progression.

 

Do you have any advice on teaching the bull fighter turn?  I try to demo and explain it just like you said, but find a lot of students don't want to put the pole tips far enough down the hill to get their arms in a locked position (and often have to pick the poles up because there is not enough room for their skis).  They can get away with this on the 1st (very flat) teaching slope that we use, but then can't perform the bull fighter turn properly on a steeper slope.

The key is the must lock their elbows and keep a straight line with pole and arm.  They can always step their feet farther up the hill if they can trust the support of their poles which demands locked elbows to support the weight.

post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post
 

The key is the must lock their elbows and keep a straight line with pole and arm.  They can always step their feet farther up the hill if they can trust the support of their poles which demands locked elbows to support the weight.

I understand that is the key and I try to tell them that and demo it, but not all students get it- some are able to get away without proper technique if they have even arm strength and the slope is flat enough.  

 

It seems pretty simple to me, but I don't really have any tricks for those that don't seem to get it (other than showing/telling them again).  Many succeed at it but for those that don't, I am not sure if it is fear, lack of understanding of the proper technique, lack of arm strength or some other reason.

post #6 of 26

  Interesting for sure Bud. A couple of questions for you...

 

  1) Do you feel this would be appropriate for a younger beginner (child)? Some of the movements (bullfighter turn) seem like they could be challenging for a young and developing/uncoordinated body...

 

   2) Although it may not be a "don't go there" movement, could teaching active femoral rotation be just as habit forming as wedging (albeit far less destructive) making learning the passive end of the spectrum difficult as the student will seek to enter their turns via twisting (bcause, as you say, what they learn from the start will be what they want to continue with)?

 

    zenny

post #7 of 26

Yeah, bullfighter turns can be an issue with my never-evers too.  So easy, once you get it, but so hard for people overstimulated by the new environment.  I show them the locked elbows and palm on top of grip thing, and they do it right once but some people then revert to hands on grip and wrists and elbows bent.  Some just can't remember 30 seconds later how to hold the pole.  I straighten their elbows with my hands and place their hands on their grips the right way, basically standing there without skis on and putting them manually in position.  The second time I ease off and talk them through it again.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  We just keep a-tryin' till they all get it, or I give up and move on.  

 

Walking the poles waaaaaay far away from the feet (I try not to say "downhill") is how I get them to place the poles.  Then I get them to walk them one at a time even farther away, so they have to lean on them.  Then they are ready to turn the skis.  

 

I have them turn the feet using a star turn; keep the tips in place pressed into the snow, and move the tails over, one baby step at a time.  We practice that star turn before the bullfighter turn ad nauseam until everyone gets it.  Or almost everyone.  Some have enormous trouble keeping those tips in place when we are practicing on the flats.  I get down on my knees and hold the tips in place sometimes; it's still difficult for some.   

 

Does anyone have any suggestions for keeping this part of the group never-ever lesson "FUN" for the people who can't keep their tips pressed into the snow, and who can't seem to keep their palms on top of their grips and their elbows locked?  I keep up a happy face, and give lots of encouragement and ask permission to give hands-on support as necessary, but this is really stressful for these folks.   All the while, the others are waiting, waiting, waiting.  

 

This is the most stressful part of the group lesson for me to teach.  Anyone have any sure-fire ways to get folks in the group to laugh and enjoy this part?  I've never paired up never-evers to help each other, but maybe this could work????? 


Edited by LiquidFeet - 10/25/13 at 6:29pm
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by zentune View Post

 

   2) Although it may not be a "don't go there" movement, could teaching active femoral rotation be just as habit forming as wedging (albeit far less destructive) making learning the passive end of the spectrum difficult as the student will seek to enter their turns via twisting (bcause, as you say, what they learn from the start will be what they want to continue with)?

 

    zenny

 

   I re-read your post once I got home so please disregard my second question Bud...

 

    zenny

post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 

Zenny,  I believe kids will likely just step around in a wedge? and that's OK

 

LF,  "Guided Practice"  Remember they do not need to perfect the bull fighter it is just a means to reposition the skis without taking off down the hill.  If they use a wedge or converging steps to reposition this is fine, I just don't reinforce the wedge.  Teaching the double edge release however, is critical to get them to do well and you may have to spend substantial time and practice on this before moving on.

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

Yeah, bullfighter turns can be an issue with my never-evers too.  So easy, once you get it, but so hard for people overstimulated by the new environment.  I show them the locked elbows and palm on top of grip thing, and they do it right once but some people then revert to hands on grip and wrists and elbows bent.  Some just can't remember 30 seconds later how to hold the pole.  I straighten their elbows with my hands and place their hands on their grips the right way, basically standing there without skis on and putting them manually in position.  The second time I ease off and talk them through it again.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  We just keep a-tryin' till they all get it, or I give up and move on.  

 

Walking the poles waaaaaay far away from the feet (I try not to say "downhill") is how I get them to place the poles.  Then I get them to walk them one at a time even farther away, so they have to lean on them.  Then they are ready to turn the skis.  

 

I have them turn the feet using a star turn; keep the tips in place pressed into the snow, and move the tails over, one baby step at a time.  We practice that star turn before the bullfighter turn ad nauseam until everyone gets it.  Or almost everyone.  Some have enormous trouble keeping those tips in place when we are practicing on the flats.  I get down on my knees and hold the tips in place sometimes; it's still difficult for some.   

 

Does anyone have any suggestions for keeping this part of the group never-ever lesson "FUN" for the people who can't keep their tips pressed into the snow, and who can't seem to keep their palms on top of their grips and their elbows locked?  I keep up a happy face, and give lots of encouragement and ask permission to give hands-on support as necessary, but this is really stressful for these folks.   All the while, the others are waiting, waiting, waiting.  

 

This is the most stressful part of the group lesson for me to teach.  Anyone have any sure-fire ways to get folks in the group to laugh and enjoy this part?  I've never paired up never-evers to help each other, but maybe this could work????? 


LF, ditch the poles altogether, teach them how to move, step, walk, step around using feet and legs. On a very gentle slope with the traverse to the slight uphill christie to a stop have them step up the hill, slight herring bone, keep stepping, (flower turn) all the way around until they are facing back across hill. I call it stepping up and around,( They don't actually turn down hill into fall line) ski/traverse on the left edges moving to the left, as one is almost or just stopped keep stepping around towards the left, slight herringbone, until all the way around and standing on their right edges, slide across on right edges and repeat turn up and step around towards the left. Keep working on down the very gentle slope, varying the angle of descent on the traverse. If you have done some boot work down on flats make sure you do some uphill climbing on some sort of pitch using a herringbone and encourage them to slide back a bit in the herringbone,few inches to feel what it is like up on a slope.

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowbowler View Post
 


LF, ditch the poles altogether, teach them how to move, step, walk, step around using feet and legs. On a very gentle slope with the traverse to the slight uphill christie to a stop have them step up the hill, slight herring bone, keep stepping, (flower turn) all the way around until they are facing back across hill. I call it stepping up and around,( They don't actually turn down hill into fall line) ski/traverse on the left edges moving to the left, as one is almost or just stopped keep stepping around towards the left, slight herringbone, until all the way around and standing on their right edges, slide across on right edges and repeat turn up and step around towards the left. Keep working on down the very gentle slope, varying the angle of descent on the traverse. If you have done some boot work down on flats make sure you do some uphill climbing on some sort of pitch using a herringbone and encourage them to slide back a bit in the herringbone,few inches to feel what it is like up on a slope.

 

Check for (my) understanding.... You get them to work their way down with traverses; at the end of each traverse you have them face up the hill and turn back the other way using a herringbone.  I haven't tried that before.  I like this!  Thanks.... I'll try it.  

 

I can get people to herringbone uphill easy.  Most can do it.  I wonder why herringboning around is so much easier for newbies than star turns (pedal/flower/pinwheel turns).  Maybe keeping the tips on the snow while working the tails around is harder because they are in the beginner's back seat and for some psychological reason don't feel confident getting forward enough to lift one tail at a time.  

 

Oh no, wait a minute...  I know what it is.  If they are facing up the hill as they turn around, they aren't facing DOWNHILL.  Downhill scares the bejeebers out of them.  That's it.  Uphill herringbone turnarounds it shall be!

 

I do ditch the poles half way down the slope.  We continue the first morning lesson totally without poles; I only use them for bullfighter turns and then we're done.  Otherwise they are in the way.  If I can get rid of those dang bullfighters I'll be happy and we can ditch the poles right away.  Can't wait to get started!  

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

 

Check for (my) understanding.... You get them to work their way down with traverses; at the end of each traverse you have them face up the hill and turn back the other way using a herringbone.  I haven't tried that before.  I like this!  Thanks.... I'll try it. 

 

I can get people to herringbone uphill easy.  Most can do it.  I wonder why herringboning around is so much easier for newbies than star turns (pedal/flower/pinwheel turns).  Maybe keeping the tips on the snow while working the tails around is harder because they are in the beginner's back seat and for some psychological reason don't feel confident getting forward enough to lift one tail at a time.  

 

Oh no, wait a minute...  I know what it is.  If they are facing up the hill as they turn around, they aren't facing DOWNHILL.  Downhill scares the bejeebers out of them.  That's it.  Uphill herringbone turnarounds it shall be!

 

I do ditch the poles half way down the slope.  We continue the first morning lesson totally without poles; I only use them for bullfighter turns and then we're done.  Otherwise they are in the way.  If I can get rid of those dang bullfighters I'll be happy and we can ditch the poles right away.  Can't wait to get started!  

Yes you have it right, the big advantage to this way is getting sliding mileage, the more mileage the more at ease they become on skis. The big caveat to this is finding wide open gentle terrain without bombers coming down on you and your group. Really need to constantly look up hill when in the shallow traverses. Another plus is with larger splits in groups the more aggressive skiers can take a steeper line, turn back up and do a little climbing at side of trail (herringbone)to get back to the group again depending on traffic conditions.

 

Yes the big key is not having them look or face downhill, especially if the skis start sliding just for a split second with some they lose it and are too scared, having skis across fall line gives them the security, the brakes as it is, to start off on the traverse in control. I won't kid you there is definitely a moment in the turn up and around when they are in the herringbone that they tend to get stuck and somewhat scared but I have found if you get them to focus on fast stepping around to get on the new edges across the hill the success happens.

 

We have been working with this method at Middlebury Snowbowl for over 10 years now, we call it Infinity or the figure 8 because if you could see from the air how they progress down the hill it looks like a series of overlapping figure 8's or the infinity sign layed out across the hill. We are trying to work this progression into snowboarding as well, still a work in progress on the up and around part.

 

You will find if you have spent the time on the flats with good boot work and finding the slight slope to work on up and around in herringbone, you won't need the poles and the really bright students won't want them. The ones who really want them are using them to stop, push off with to move them around, need them to hold themselves up etc. They will be a challenge in anybody's method. They usually need a lot more flat level boot work, exercises, games etc. on flat surface.

post #13 of 26

After reading your earlier post upthread, I was seeing the figure eight in my mind and knew it would be perfect on our learning terrain.  At my mountain they start out going downhill on something that is  (...ahem...) somewhat interesting to teach on.  It's less flat than I wish, with two narrow funnels leading into it.  Not easy for first turns, specially on weekends when the beginner terrain is usually crowded.  Traversing is the name of the game no matter what on this terrain for beginners, so looking uphill for incoming traffic is always an issue.  The bullfighters with poles, or the pinwheel turns facing downhill without poles, are always a very big challenge no matter how much time we've spent on the flats doing bootwork.  I'll definitely be using the uphill herringbone turnaround when the season starts. 

 

Once they get a little ways down the hill, it flattens out some.  This figure eight without any initiations is perfect for the first part of this slope because by the time they are used to traversing the pitch will have flattened some.  They will be less intimidated making those first initiations.  When they get to the bottom after linking their first turns, they are ready for instructions on how to ride the chair up.  That is always a good moment. 

 

We are both in New England - so we deal with the same hard snow that sends them down the hill very fast.  I wish we had Colorado snow!

post #14 of 26

Bud, thanks for spelling out a direct to parallel teaching progression. I'm interested in trying this with my groups this season. It basically looks like the "fan progression". I've never understood how to get people through the "upside-down" phase of the turn until your post though -- thanks! 

 

My only concern is with the crowds at our hills - teaching a fan progression takes a lot more width than just snaking in a wedge. But that's a logistics problem, and not a criticism of the progression itself. 

post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 

Interesting, I am not advocating a direct to parallel progression in my article, at least I don't believe I am, though a couple people here have indicated it is a direct to parallel?  The Centerline J turn demonstration begins in a slight wedge and ends parallel.  A student may in fact, do the whole turn in a wedge or the whole way on corresponding edges, the point I am trying to make is we are teaching speed control through turn completion rather than a wedge with braking tendencies. Hmmmm? I guess I see how it could be interpreted as direct to parallel.  I think it kinda blurs the lines between wedge and parallel approach.

 

While I am advocating teaching the turn mechanics of a parallel turn, I use the wedge as training wheels to teach these mechanics with the hopes of shedding the wedge in favor of sloppy simultaneously steered christies, which will easily refine into basic parallel turns devoid of stems, active weight shifts, edge locks, and any other defensive braking movements.

 

I focus my attention more on how my students begin their turns rather than how they finish them! I find if they can initiate well, finishing is a piece a cake.  If they begin with a good release, passive weight shift, and lower leg steering, good things happen.

post #16 of 26

Consider that your goal is to get people skiing independently, without instilling any bad habits. If your pitch is mellow enough to eliminate any fear of gaining too much speed, why not just skip the wedge? You're practically there already since you're teaching learners the "go intent" rather than a braking intent. And they're learning to manage speed through turn shape.

 

Not saying there's a need to consciously eliminate wedging so early--but if you can avoid putting effort into teaching turning by wedging, why not? 

 

Just putting it out there - it sorta sounds like that's where your progression's at anyway

post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 

Yup!

post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 

Consider that your goal is to get people skiing independently, without instilling any bad habits. If your pitch is mellow enough to eliminate any fear of gaining too much speed, why not just skip the wedge? You're practically there already since you're teaching learners the "go intent" rather than a braking intent. And they're learning to manage speed through turn shape.

 

Not saying there's a need to consciously eliminate wedging so early--but if you can avoid putting effort into teaching turning by wedging, why not? 

 

 

I find that I almost never have to be the one to introduce the wedge.  Even with "never evers" someone in the group has either skied a day or two before and "knows" the wedge or someones friend told them about it at some point.  Invariably, at least a few students in the group find the wedge on their own and I often demo a wedge christie when making slow turns with beginners so it is rare for nobody to ask about it at some point during the day.

post #19 of 26

Wanted to bump this thread now that ski season is underway.

 

A couple of thoughts- re Metaphor's question about why teach a wedge at all- a gliding wedge can offer some students a bit more stability than they get with just parallel...while I try to see if they can do without it, many students end up feeling more comfortable and make more progress with turning once they have this extra stability.

 

To Bud- I am teaching both adults and kids this season at different areas.

 

On the 3 to 5 year old magic carpet that we have at one of the areas, it is pretty flat, short and has a bit of a double fall line back towards the carpet.  Yesterday, I was able to get a 4 yo to start in a 45 degree traverse towards the carpet and stop with his skis across the hill.  When I asked him why he thought he came to a stop, he answered that it was because he was "across"!!!!!!  Going the other direction, if you start pointing straight down, it only takes a slight turn into the double fall line to stop so the student never develops much speed and doesn't really get the sensation of turning to a stop.  

 

How would you deal with the following practical problems that I am encountering?

 

1.  The most useful skill for the students to have to avoid running into each other at the bottom of the carpet on crowded days (like yesterday and many of the days I will be working) is a braking wedge- there is simply not enough room at bottom for them to use a J turn stop and load the carpet when other skiers are around.

 

2.  The traverse back towards the carpet is most useful for having them get a feel for turning to a stop, but if they don't complete the turn, the only options are for them to fall, you catch them, use a braking wedge or ski into the carpet. 

 

3. Many students prefer to simply go straight so they can get a bit of speed up before stopping (either by using a braking wedge at the bottom, or by running into another skier).  Going to the next steeper carpet is an option (and one that I try to use as a reward for showing me they can turn to a stop on the flatter terrain) but how do you know if they will be able to execute on steeper terrain if you haven't seen them do it on flatter terrain?

 

4.  Very young students can't really plan turns ahead to avoid other skiers (see photo below for proof that they can really only focus on one thing like hold the rope until you get to the top)

 

5.  Because a braking wedge is the most useful skill to avoid skiing into the carpet or other skiers, most other instructors within earshot of my students are emphasizing this to their students.

 

post #20 of 26

A braking wedge is the answer.  Terrain rules.  

It won't hurt them to use a braking wedge when it's the only practical option, just as it doesn't hurt us to use it occasionally in the lift line.

They will eventually learn two ways to stop.  Their minds are capable of that, and if they aren't capable now of stopping two ways, they will be later.

When they get on terrain that won't allow a good braking wedge, they'll have to learn to turn-stop. 

post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 

MEfree30,  It sounds like your teaching terrain is creating a need for a braking wedge.  This is very unfortunate for your students but not an uncommon situation, especially during crowded Holiday periods.  I would look around to see if there are other areas you could use that would permit traversing and uphill christies to minimize or avoid braking wedges.  Sometimes we have to be creative and color outside the lines.  Finding excuses to keep using a braking wedge is not doing your students' progress any favors.  A braking wedge should be the second choice rather than the primary, go to, maneuver for speed control.,

 

Liquidfeet, Certainly terrain dictates technique, and I am not advocating avoiding using wedges.  There is also no doubt that kids who take their wedges to steeper terrain will need to learn to turn to be able to stop.  These kids that are introduced to steeper terrain before they learn to christie are simply hard wiring the braking wedge into their motor memory and will struggle to ski parallel for a long time.  Sure, they will learn to turn in their power wedge, but watch how they initiate turning and understand this will hinder their learning to release their edges to ski parallel.

 

If the instructor doesn't use the "intent" to teach expert skills in the beginner arena, their students will simply learn dead end movements which need to be unlearned later. My point is why?  Why not teach with the intent to introduce edge releases to initiate turning and use turn shape to control speed.  

 

Happy New Year guys!  and pray for snow in the Sierras!

bud

post #22 of 26

I totally agree with you Bud, but sometimes terrain and crowds are overpowering, and the lesson must go on.

Creative ways of teaching "GO" are the way to deal with it.  But maybe the braking wedge will still be a part of the process in the difficult situation described by MEfree.


Edited by LiquidFeet - 12/31/13 at 3:23am
post #23 of 26
Thanks for writing the article. I dont agree with every aspect of it, naturally, but I put high value in people that think things through and are willing to share and discuss. What I would like is some videos of the progressions and drills. Should be easy with a cell phone.
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 

Great idea TD, next time I am out I will try to get some shots for you.  I suppose you would like to see the release move, since if I remember correctly, you do not believe it is possible?  

post #25 of 26
Thanks Bud. No, I believe in the release move. Just think the active weight transfer method needs to be part of it.
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

Zenny,  I believe kids will likely just step around in a wedge? and that's OK



Kids usually find the easiest way to do something if you let them work it out. I haven't used the bullfighter turn with beginners in years because I think it's more important to be using the feet.

I think the J-turn process is great if you have a nice, wide slope with no traffic. Most magic carpet areas I've seen are relatively narrow and often crowded. Cross-slope maneuvers can create traffic hazards.
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